One of the most exciting aspects of Formula 1 racing is that, each weekend, we get to watch teams compete on a new track. Track styles can have a big impact on how a race plays out, and teams have to be ready with plenty of data. For older tracks, there’s a wealth of historical data to pull from—every radius, apex, drag reduction system (DRS) zone, pitch, and more.
But for new tracks like the Miami International Autodrome, there’s less available data and more challenges. The new track premiers May 2022, so pre-race testing will be incredibly important to help teams shape strategies for Sunday. Here’s track-by-track guide and some of the most iconic turns to watch for—plus a little science behind each. Hold on to your seats!
Monaco Grand Prix City Circuit
The Monaco street circuit is lined with barricades, not safety run-off, which makes this entire race a nail-biter. Accuracy is non-negotiable, and every turn is high stakes. While drivers rely a lot on instinct during this race with its tight turns and close shifting, teams will be paying attention to hard data, too. That includes how the aerodynamic conditions change things up in the tunnel, and outfitting cars for the almighty Grand Hotel hairpin with a special steering rack.
Hang on for the Swimming Pool section along the harbor—you might guess what happens if the gear is off heading into these chicanes…
Azerbaijan Baku’s City Circuit
Not all city circuits are created equal. Azerbaijan’s City Circuit has plenty of 90-degree turns to contend with (street corners, to us civilian drivers), but it’s the super narrow Turn 9 to keep an eye out for. It’s one of the tightest turns on the whole F1 circuit, and even with plenty of safety precautions, drivers have to be incredibly precise in their entry speed and handling to come out clean on the other side.
Notice the drivers working multiple rotaries on the steering wheel as they enter and navigate the midpoint to get the differential just right.
Austria’s Spielberg Track
The second half of this shorter lap is packed with turns, which F1 calls “a regular toboggan ride.” If you’re into the strategy of the circuit, you know that DRS zones are big overtaking opportunities. Turns often come on either end of a DNS zone, and the Red Bull Ring has a number of these zingers, including Turn 9—a hard right taken at high speeds.
Today’s F1 cars can be tuned right from the steering wheel. Drivers can glance down (often during super-fast straights) and make adjustments. For instance, Hamilton and Vitteri can press the DRS button and control the car’s drag reduction system with the wing at the back of the car.
The oldest and the most revered? Perhaps, and with good reason. When a turn starts off with a blind entry, bravery is key—something Hamilton can attest to. The swift apex and minimum speed of the Copse corner make it daunting, and modern track conditions make it faster than ever. This can create a pretty intense G-force on the drivers.
Speaking of speed, this track is one of the fastest on the circuit. Hamilton once compared it to “flying a fighter jet”—no coincidence, then, that electronics engineers designed F1 steering wheels with the same materials used to withstand vibrations in aircraft.
Then, if there’s a make-it-or-break-it turn in F1, Maggots/Becketts is a squiggly combo that qualifies. It’s highly technical, and drivers often use a double downshift strategy while navigating consecutive bends.
Hungaroring isn’t known for being super fast, or very amenable to overtaking opportunities. But it has other tricks in store.
For Turn 5, teams have to carefully consider tire wear and tear in order to maintain speed through the turn, or risk getting passed. The dusty landscape can also play a role. It can play down a sometimes helpful effect called “rubbering in.” This is when tire wear on the track adds more grip over the course of a race. Tire engineers have to do an in-depth analysis of track surfaces at points during the weekend for these changes. And, as F1 tracks can be resurfaced (sometimes one stretch at a time), leveraging near real-time data from tire sensors and other trackside technologies keeps the Mercedes-AMG team from getting caught off guard.
Spa’s Eau Rouge & Pouhone
There are a couple of turns that demand perfection on Belgium’s Spa track. Eau Rouge is a mountainous down-then-up curve, with a blind summit that means drivers hit the crest without knowing exactly where they’ll land. Lewis Hamilton has called this turn “the most exciting part of the circuit. When you attack it flat out, when you get to the bottom of it, your insides drop.
Pouhon, with two apexes (the geometric center of a turn, and a driver’s target on the track), requires incredibly precise aim.
Circuit Zandvoort’s New Banked Turns
Last year, new banked turns at Turns 3 and 13 were revealed at Netherlands’ Circuit Zandvoort—a somewhat controversial design choice. Banking hasn’t been typical to F1 since advancements to downforce and the addition of wings made it nearly unnecessary. With banked turns back in the game at Zandvoort, teams will need to consider camber (how tires are vertically aligned) and carefully tune both suspension and tires before this race.
The Parabolica at Autodromo Nazionale Monza
It’s a track characterized by speed—called “The Cathedral of Speed”—where Hamilton set a record for the fastest F1 lap in history in 2020. Slipstreams on straights with little to no elevation change make overtaking relatively easy, and teams prep cars to run at nearly full throttle for a staggering 80% of the race’s laps. But that doesn’t mean the brakes are off the hook.
F1 cars are tuned for ground effect, and Monza is a circuit where drivers heavily engage a car’s aerodynamics to keep it anchored to the ground. The track is packed with straights and chicanes, such as the famous Ascari Complex. Chicanes are serpentine curves with quick back-and-forths, which require serious consideration for tire traction and braking balance. Drivers can dynamically adjust both throughout a lap, right from their steering wheels.
The famous Curva Parabolica is still a favorite among purists, even with some modernizations over the years. Watch for this hair-raising turn with its early apex and see how the cars enter in seventh gear and hug the ground at speeds of over 200km/hour. Watch these incredible cars execute this turn, gripping the track with ground effect.
Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit
This unique street circuit course is packed with cool features, but the conditions are hot and humid. It’s a physically demanding track for drivers that Hamilton has compared to a sauna, even though this race runs at night.
With twenty-three turns on the loop, there’s lots of braking but zero mental breaks. F1 reports that brake manufacturer Brembo estimates 81,435kg of braking force during the Marina Bay circuit. Also, watch for bumps in the road that can cause tires to lock up at high speeds.
Japan’s Suzuka 130R
Despite its unassuming name (it’s named for the meters in its turn radius), 130R is a favorite at the Suzuka track. The speed drivers maintain coming into this turn results in a huge lateral G-force, but adequate grip can help with handling. If you get a glimpse into the cockpit, notice how drivers use buttons on the steering wheel to adjust the engine and power unit of the car for these particular turns of the race.
Austin’s Circuits of the Americas
Turn 15 is a doozy on this fast and exciting Texas circuit. The track’s average speed is 195km/hour with some insane elevation changes, which make the staggering twenty turns a challenge. Keep an eye out for Turn 1, which comes after 140 feet in elevation change from the straightaway. It features a tricky bump that can cause suspension compression and lead to loss of control at high speeds.
Mexico City Autodromo’s High Altitude Air
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Savvy teams will take altitude into account here with the track sitting a lofty 2km above sea level. What does that mean for cars and drivers? Cars will run hotter, and drivers will need to physically adjust to the conditions before the race.
There are 14 turns to contend with here, with the first and second sequences comprising a series of three curves. Turn 4 is definitely the tightest—then drivers get their thrills through the rest of the track at high speeds of over 100mph. (The Mercedes-AMG team holds the track record here, too!)
Brazil Interlagos and the Senna S
Interlagos resides on the natural curves and hills of Sao Paolo, and it doesn’t try to hide them. Where this track really throws a curveball, however, is its counter-clockwise direction. A majority of tracks on the tour run clockwise, causing drivers to turn their necks to the right, but this one delivers centrifugal force in a new direction. Turns are a physical thing—and there are plenty of them.
Watch for Senna S, a pair of left then right downward turns that causes the car’s camber to change throughout the turn. They’re coming into this one fast after the first lap, so getting the grip right is key.
Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Circuit
Saudi’s race is new in 2021! The Jeddah Street Circuit map (as it stands) reveals a long, leggy course with backdrops of the Red Sea and city lights. It’s said it will come in second only to Monza in terms of top speeds. But for all its length, it has the most turns of any course on the map: 27!
You won’t want to miss this track’s unveiling—and teams won’t want to miss the chance to proactively attack it with data and technology at their fingertips.
Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit
The Formula 1 pros have called out a series of turns from 15 to 17 as ones to watch at Abu Dhabi. What makes these so rough? Big braking demands under the duress of “lateral load,” which can seriously affect the grip of the tires. (When seconds matter, this is important.) Lateral load is pretty mathematical, but just know it’s the cumulative effects of centripetal force (“grip force”) and centrifugal force (“reaction force”), which battle over the car and its tires on fast, sharp turns. That means hard work on drivers, teams, and cars alike.
Miami International Autodrome
New in 2022, the Miami International Autodrome is the track teams have the least amount of data on so far, which is why Friday pre-race testing will be so critical. The temporary track’s first lap records will be set, helping teams get a feel for the 19 turns, elevation changes, three potential DRS zones, and some uneven ground. Miami is considered a “low-drag” track, which will mean teams like Mercedes-AMG Petronas will be implementing low-downforce upgrade packages and different rear wings.
Flattening the Learning Curve with Data
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team has two of the most talented drivers behind the wheels—but even they can’t do it all alone. With all of these track details in mind and telemetry data from more than 200 physical sensors, the team has an essential pool of intelligence to help them stick the apexes and maneuver twisty chicanes. And Pure Storage is proud to help Petronus ensure their data is lighting-fast, available, and ready for anything.
Tune in and see how the Mercedes-Petronas F1 team hugs these turns with endurance, safety, and skill every step of the way.